Rockwell Attorney at Law
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Terms you need to know for a civil case:
- Plaintiff is the person that brings the case against another person in a court of law. If you are filing a complaint against someone, you are the plaintiff.
- Defendant is the person against whom a claim or charge is brought in a court. If someone else filed a complaint against you, then you are the defendant.
- Complaint is the first document the plaintiff will file against the defendant.
- Summons is an order to appear before a judge. For example, if you receive a subpoena then you are summons to be in court on the court date.
- Pleadings is the beginning of a lawsuit where parties formally submit their claims and defenses. The plaintiff will state the cause of action or the issue in controversy. The defendant will submit an answer or state his/her defense and denials. The defendant can also submit a counter claim against the plaintiff at this time.
- Pretrial conference is a meeting of the parties to an action and their attorneys held before the court prior to the commencement of the actual courtroom proceedings. The conference is held before the trial judge or the magistrate. It may be requested by a party in the case or ordered by the court.
- Mediation is an intervention of a dispute in order to resolve it. The case goes to a mediator who helps both parties negotiate a settlement.
- Arbitration is the use of an arbitrator to settle a dispute. The arbitrator is a third party person that reviews the evidence in the case and makes a decision that is legally binding on both sides and enforceable in the courts.
- Trial is a formal investigation of evidence before a judge (and sometimes a jury) in order to decide guilty or innocence in a case. In a trial both parties are able to present the evidence for their side of the case.
- Prepondenerance of evidence is when the plaintiff has the burden of proving the facts and claims stated in their complaint. If the defendant filed a counterclaim, they will also have the burden of proving the facts and claims stated in their complaint.
- Verdict is the decision made (guilty or not guilty) in a disputed issue.
- Appeal is the process for requesting a formal change to an official decision. If the appeal is granted the case will be heard again by a new decision maker that has no prior knowledge of the decision of the first decision maker.